35th JACT Latin Summer School, Wells Cathedral School
Directors: David Stephenson and Alex Boyt
‘I am a Classical Studies student at the University of Manchester and I have attended Latin Camp this year in order to give myself a grounding in the Latin language. Attending Latin Camp has been a real privilege and joy for many reasons. The wide variety of activities and the beautiful city of Wells were added extras to an amazing introduction to Latin. The classes were handled in a way that made the intensity of the course a lot easier to digest and the daily grammar clinics were really helpful, for any questions could be answered straight away.’ (Lauren Cox, Age 19)
The 35th Latin summer school once again took place at Wells Cathedral School, Somerset. This year 125 students attended the two week course, making us the fourth biggest ever. Our traditional spread of ages continued, with the youngest being 15 and the oldest being 52. This year was slightly less international than previous years, with only 10% coming from overseas, but the blend was still exotic with students from Dubai, Munich and Glasgow. This year 31% of our school age students were from the state sector, a little down on last year. We also continue to appeal to and provide for mature students studying at undergraduate and postgraduate level. We particularly pride ourselves on providing a course which caters both for those with specific academic goals and also those with a more general interest.
‘I could do 60 lines of Latin verse in an hour and make it into readable English, when before I came I was struggling to complete 30 lines in the same time.’ (Costandia Demetriou, Age 17)
- Staff and teaching
The success of the Latin Summer School is reliant on the quality of its tutors and we were pleased that so many experienced tutors decided to join us again this summer: Charlie Paterson, David Moyes, Luke Bastin, Rhiannon Litterick, Laura Snook, and Olivia Upchurch. Adding to the mix were a few loyal returners: Will Ford, Sara McNee and Elly Nicoll, who came back after a break. We continue to shamelessly exploit the ‘PGCE’ group for the latest hot new talent in Classics teaching and welcomed both Katie Lathan and Clemmie Faulkner to the team. This year’s assistant role was split between Ed Evans, who looked after us in the first week and ‘old-hand’ Emily Strang, who kept us all in order for the second. This will be Emily’s last time as assistant and we wish her in all the best in her new Classics teaching career – I am amazed that we didn’t put her off the idea of Latin teaching for life!
‘I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the Summer school. Thanks to the intensive sessions I managed to read long passages of two literary works. Since the texts were of different nature, I now have more experience with various genres and styles, which will be very useful for my further reading of Roman literature. It was helpful to have the possibility to deal with the text first by myself and then discuss the difficulties in class and with the tutor. Apart from that, I appreciated that the sessions weren’t only about translating and that we also discussed the background of the stories.‘ (Sara Flemrova, Age 20)
Once again we had 13 teaching groups. A significant proportion of students were studying Latin at GCSE or A Level (with the two biggest groups being made up of those about to start Year 11 and Year 13). We once again catered for those who needed to learn Latin as a condition of their Oxbridge offers. By the end of the two weeks, both beginners groups sat a GCSE language paper and achieved an average of 87% marked by actual GCSE MS. Just under 60% would have achieved an A*.
The selection of texts read by those in the pre-GCSE groups and above was once again stimulating and in some cases quite unusual. Charlie Paterson’s group may have been scarred for life after reading a combination of Suetonius’ Nero and Seneca’s Thyestes and David Moyes’ group seemed to enjoy the jaded humour of Juvenal’s Satires. For the younger groups, there was an opportunity to get their first taste of real Latin literature and we hope that it will give them some extra confidence as they embark on their final year of GCSE. Two years ago we introduced a group aimed specifically at those who were going into Classics teaching and we offered the same provision this year. The aim of this group is not only to provide a chance to look at the set texts specified by the exam boards but also to look at how best to prepare questions and mark in the style of public exams.
The grammar clinics were once again divided into ‘regular’ and ‘advanced’ and we continue to consider if and how we can improve them. It is not always possible to respond to all suggestions for improvement but we do try to use them to make positive changes. Next year, for example, we are hoping to introduce a clinic which offers an introduction to literary criticism.
‘Another great aspect of attending was meeting many people from different countries, which taught me a lot regarding different approaches to teaching Latin. These findings a value tremendously as I myself aspire to teach Latin in the future and I can appreciate different approaches to certain didactic problems that arise from teaching Latin language to native Czech speakers.’ (Adam Kejhar, Age 20)
We were very lucky to welcome back so many familiar faces for the series of evening lectures. In keeping with tradition, Anthony Bowen gave the first talk and taught us how to pronounce Latin properly. Wednesday night is now ‘Quiz Night’ on the summer school and gave the students another opportunity to meet people outside of their teaching groups. The ‘Name that Tune’ round, where the titles or lyrics of popular songs are literally translated into Latin, continues to be the most enjoyable (from both a tutor and student point of view). With ‘loquere cum amicis tuis, cum amicis meis, cum me, sed nos numquam-quam-quam amicitiam reficiemus, -quam.’ receiving the biggest laugh.
Dr. Genevieve Lively got us to consider the rather wonderful possibility that Pygmalion’s statue might be one of the earliest examples of a ‘cyborg’. It was obvious that many pupils relished the chance to combine their love of Latin literature and science fiction. Professor Matthew Leigh talked to us about Roman comedy, which is always a popular topic. On Sunday evening, Dr John Smith once again provided us with a fascinating insight into the life of a Roman Legionary in south west England. This talk always provides an opportunity to develop further our understanding of the Roman army in Britain and John often has some interesting new insights to share as a result of the experimental archaeology projects he is involved in.
In the second week, Dr Claire Holleran from Exeter University gave a very thought provoking talk on the history of archaeology at Pompeii and the problems faced by the academics who wish to study and preserve it in the 21st Century. The following night, Stephen Bird prepared us for our trip to Bath with a talk on Aquae Sulis and as always his support enriched the students’ experience of the trip itself. The museum at Bath continues to update its exhibitions regularly and the majority of students took this opportunity to enjoy an afternoon exploring the city before enjoying the baths themselves. On the final lecture night, Dr Costas Panayotakis very kindly made the journey from ‘the other summer school’ to entertain and educate us on ‘Petronius and the Roman Novel’. The talk appealed to students of all ages and experience and we very much hope to welcome him back next year.
The Hellenic Book Service once again brought their extensive collection of books, posters, DVDs, ‘Grumio ancillam delectat‘ pencils and ‘loquor Latinam’ badges; and the students made the most of this subject specific retail therapy. We were very grateful to Mark Grant who once again delivered his Roman cookery lesson, as always it was a very popular session. The Latin Summer School would not be the Latin Summer School without the staff play at the end of the two weeks. It is fair to say that this was perhaps not our slickest performance of the ‘Miles Gloriosus’ but the tutors enjoyed it immensely and the students kindly offered up the odd titter in response to our efforts at comedy.
- Acknowledgements and Thanks
This year we awarded £1500 in a total of 5 bursaries. It is always very important to us that we make the summer school and the learning of Latin as accessible as possible. The comments quoted throughout this report are all from those who received bursaries and the financial support is clearly appreciated by those who received it. Admittedly, this sum is lower than last year, but this is because there were fewer requests for bursaries and everyone who asked for financial help received it.
The sponsorship we are so generously given by those listed below not only allows us to provide places to those who would not be able to come otherwise but it also helps us keep fees down overall. David and I would like to thank those sponsors whose generosity helps makes this possible:
The Classical Association
The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
The Jowett Copyright Trustees
The Craven Committee, University of Oxford
Trinity College, Cambridge
Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge
Friends of Classics
- Further developments and changes:
As a summer school we are always looking for ways to improve the educational experience we provide. 2015 saw several innovations: a change in the structure of the day in response to majority feedback received the previous year; electronic reports and, most importantly, Latin Camp hoodies (to match our existing merchandise: the ‘awesome’ t-shirts and ‘very handy’ mugs. The sight of 125 people dressed in every conceivable shade of the rainbow, with JACT Latin Summer School blazoned across their backs, was quite a sight to behold. The rearrangement of the day meant the gap between lunch and the last teaching session was reduced to make a longer length of time between dinner and the lecture. We hope that this provided students the opportunity to prepare their texts before the talks, thus allowing for earlier bedtimes and a little extra socialising time.
- Next year’s course:
The website www.latincamp.co.uk continues to be the first point of contact for those who wish to apply using the online application process.
If you need further information after looking on the website or have specific questions to ask, then please do email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Dates for the 36th JACT Latin Summer School are Monday 25th July-Saturday 6th August. Course fees will be published on the website and circulated shortly.
Co-Director JACT Latin Summer School